tv [untitled] June 7, 2012 5:00pm-5:30pm EDT
assessor program, they go through an additional training regimen, which is designed to be the most comprehensive that we have within tsa and the department to say, what are their abilities to discern what a person's intent is, by, again, just a brief conversation, and it may be as much as not what the actual answer is, but how that person, their body language, their eye contact, some of those things that are known in law enforcement, of course, in terms of just being able to engage somebody. so, all of those things are factors that we look at, as we try to assess who our best people are to be those behavior detection and assessor officers. >> how long does it take to, in your judgment, to train one of these people? >> well, so, the assessors, which are -- if you want to call them a super-behavior detectional officer in boston and detroit are all behavior detection officers to start with, i believe every one is,
and then they go through a 40-hour training course, which is tested, graded and most people make it through, some do not, if you don't pass, if you will. and this is based on some worldwide best practices without identifying specific countries, on what's the best way to engage a passenger in a verbal and a, you know, nonhands-on approach. and so, they go through this 40-hour training and then they have, on the job training, to assess, okay, you made it through the training all right, but are you actually doing this as we would like in real life? and so we have it in the two air ports now in terms of the assessor program. we have not expanded that yet because of one of the questions is, what is our return on investment, so, we put people in this position. what type of detection are question getting and what is that return on investment? >> and to date, have you found this speeds the process up of
screening and moving that line along? >> it does not speed the process but we have been able to make some modifications, for example, is it the document checker, who first checks the passport, can that person do some of this or does it need to be a separate officer? we've been able to make some refinements. it takes from 20 to 30 seconds for this conversation to take place, so it doesn't expedite the process but it is another layer of security that helps us and it's particularly note worthy in light of the intelligence from last year where terrorists are talking about surgically implanted devices, so, where they are talking about not just underwear bombs as we've seen, but actually taking explosives and having suicide bomber agree to have that device surgically implanted. behavior detection officer, assessor, may be the best layer of security we have to engage that person and see where there
may be something about that person before they ever make it on a plane. so, those are some of the options we look at. >> thank you. i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. chair now recognizes mr. thompson for any questions he may have. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i'd like unanimous consent to enter into the record an exchange of letters between mr. pistole and myself. >> without objection, so ordered. >> as well as unanimous consent to enter into the record the arbitration results, relative to negotiations between tsa and -- >> without objection, so ordered. >> relative to that, collective bargaining effort and the fact that tsos have agreed to pick -- they've selected a bargaining representative, mr. pistole, can you provide the subcommittee
your assurance that tsa will negotiate in accordance with the determination and that you are committed to reaching a resolution on a contract through the regular negotiating process? >> absolutely, congressman thompson. we are -- i am personally and we have committed to that and we are working diligently to reach that agreement. >> thank you. taking off from mr. turner's comments about behavior detection officers. you know, gao looked at the spot program and we've spent about $1 billion of taxpayers' money, putting this program together. if -- if we look at who we have deta detained, have you made an assessment of whether or not the
original intent of the program is being met by the people we're detaining? >> yes. the short answer is yes, it adds value as another layer of security at u.s. airports. the question is, again, that return on investment. is it something that we should expand beyond, for example, the assessor program, beyond the two air porments we're in, as the most robust layer of security and i'm still assessing the information from there, so, we have identified a number of people who exhibited behavior ano, ma'am lips, if you will. and they have been people who had false documents on them, were illegal aliens, perhaps had outstanding criminal warrants for them, so. we have identified people and law enforcement has been able to step in and arrest, detain those people. one of the questions we get, well, we haven't identified any
terrorists and i think that's because of the deterrent nature of the u.s. aviation security system. the protocols we have in place, every threat we have seen since 9/11 to aviation has been from overseas, whether it is richard reed, the shoe bomber, the liquids plot, six from london -- >> so, your testimony is, the billion dollar investment, even though we have not caught a terrorist, we've caught people with visa overstays, what have you, is worth the investment. >> i believe it is, yes. >> was that the intent of the program? >> the intent is to deter terrorists and if it doesn't deter, then to catch them, because we haven't had any actual terrorists try to get on a flight here in the u.s., even though some people talk about, well, what about the time square bomber, he was a fleeing felon as opposed to a terrorist trying to do something to a friglight. >> i expect you to defend your program.
now, gao also has said, well, maybe we ought to have a fresh set of eyes look at it. have you thought about having third party entity look at it as gao suggested? >> yes, i mean, i think there's strong validation worldwide from some of the premiere security services in the world, that do this type of work. but as to actually having an outside entity come in to do an independent validation, i have not taken that step, if you that is what you are suggesting -- >> gao suggested it. and tsa's mind, this is a successful program. but outside of tsa, you've had no outside validation. >> well, yes, we have. i thought you meant a new study. so, we have, for example, the s and t, science and technology department -- >> i understand.
outside the department. >> we have not paid for an independent third party review to come in and assess the program. >> last point is, the card is a real issue. we have about 2.1 million people with a card, overtime will expire. do you commit yourself to addressing that expiration, the photos times -- >> yes. yes. >> thank you. >> thank the gentleman. chairman recognizes mr. richmond for any questions he may have. >> i thank you mr. chairman and to the ranking member. i'll go straight to congressman thompson's last question, because i think he was kind of rushed and wanted to get the commitment. i represent new orleans louisiana and the port of south louisiana, port of new orleans, five or six major rail lines,
and this issue is very important for us. when you look at the loss of time, of people going to renew the card and having to go twice and i think the major issue is the need for renewal and the need to go twice in order to get the card. is there a plan in place to address both of those issues, especially because we don't have the readers. >> yes, congressman, and thank you. recognizing the important, especially to your district, yes. there has been a lot of very good work done. we are very near to announcing what that plan, which addresses those issues, in a way that still provides adequate security in ports to have value date ehas and also addresses issues that have you raised in a way that balances the individual needs with the security needs. >> and getting back to, i guess, the subject of this committee and i agree with the ranking member of the subcommittee that, i think the title is unfair to
you. in your experience, and any data surveys that you are seeing, is your approval rating, customer satisfaction, reputation, that much different from any normal police department, anyone else that has to enforce laws that are uncomfortable or inconvenient? >> well, i think, in large part, we're defined by anneck dolts, so, 1.7, 1.8 million people that travel every day, i'm not aware of a complaint yesterday, perhaps the day before, so, i think it's part of just the sheer numbers that we deal63 mi a year, we are not going to have 100% customer satisfaction where every single person believes they receive the best possible security screening. so, i think that's just a factor of the numbers. that being said, it is our goal to provide that most effective
security in the most professi professional way, to make sure everybody gets safely from point a to point b but it's done in a way that recognizes the privacy of every traveling person and something that by definition, our job can be confrontational and so people may not agree with that. what we are working on, the training programs, the technology improvements to try to become less invasive and yet more thorough, all these things are designed with that outcome. not that it's a popularity contest, obviously, but it's something that we want to make sure we can assure the traveling public and obviously committees of oversight to say, yes, we are providing the most effective security in the most efficient way. it doesn't happen overnight. change doesn't happen overnight but we have instituted changes that i believe are addressing the committee's concerns and the traveling public's concerns in a way that effects the vast, vast majority, again, recognizing that there will be individuals who are not fully satisfied.
>> and as you move to being smarter and one of my concerns and i probably differ from the members on the committee, but as you reduce the level of screening for seniors and inf t infants, do you worry about creating an opportunity for them to be used as mules? either voluntarily or involuntarily? and is that a concern? >> that is a concern, congressman. and we've seen incidents around the world where people have been used unwittingly, as you said. particularly -- well, several incidents where that has happen. so, we have to be mindful of that. that's why when we describe tsa is being one of the multiple layers of security for the u.s. government. the key of this is intelligence on the front end. the intelligence coup i talked about, the yemen cargo plot that was disrupted. that was all based on intelligence. it is not like we have operating in a vacuum over here.
if somebody is going to use a child or elderly person, we are working in close concert with the rest of the u.s. intelligence and law enforcement communities to make sure we have information about that. we always keep random and unpredictable screening as part of that and everybody is still going through some physical screening, it's just a question, can we do it more smartly? >> and very quickly, i have 20 seconds left. customer satisfaction. do you have any idea where you are in terms of your approval rating, customer satisfaction rating? if you have a number, it would be great. >> so, i know in terms of the calls to our tsa contact center, let's say half million, 525,000 calls thus far this year, over half of those are just for information. 7% of the calls that we receive to the contact center are complaints. most are just asking for information about screening prot calls, things like that. 7% are complaints. last year, it was 6% now, 7% last year, i'd have to get the exact -- >> and my time is up. i would say far better than the
13% approval rating for congress. >> thank you, sir. >> i wouldn't bet on it. one of the things you could do, i mean, he asked a very legitimate question. it think it would be y'all to do -- all kind of survey companies that will do surveys for you on customer satisfaction. it think it would be good for y'all to hire one, ask the traveling public what they think of tsa, what they would suggest. i'm going back to what i'm suggesting. i'm saying y'all get leaner. you said 30% reduction was too much. what is a good number? and keep it in mind, you don't need 46,000. nobody in this room believes that, with a straight face, that you got the right number of people. what is the size that you can cut, is it 25%? >> the challenge is to say what type of security is the american people -- what are they expecting? >> i'm asking you.
you've been in the job two years and you are a very smart, competent fella. you've had two years to run the department. if you could pick the work force, what's the number you could get by with? it's not 46,000. is it 35,000 workers, if they were professionally trained? >> so the current construct in order to be the most efficient agency possible, which most people don't think about some of the details, 14,000 of our officers are part time, so, just as there's a morning rush hour on the highways, the streets, there's a morning rush hour at most airports. so, as opposed to having full time people there all day, we have part time people who come in for four hours in the morning, some work a split shift -- >> isn't 14,000 over the 46,000 full time? >> the requirement is those who are hired, the cap is 46,000, so, the fte, get into the details is still below that.
that's one way we tried to deal with that cap. say, congress has not approved full-time funding for all these people so we have full time and then we have all these part time people and part of the challenge is, how do you train and retain a professional work force so the attrition rate that i mentioned, the 7.2%, it's higher for the part time people because they're looking for other opportunities. so that's part of the challenge. so, if you are telling me you would fund us at x amount, give us x amount, i would have to look at, so, do i cut back the part time, less efficient, because we need full time people who are not busy at -- >> i want you to cut out those people that are standing around not doing anything at the airport screening check points. >> just on that comment, sir, some of our airports don't have break rooms or close by the check point and so they may have to simply go to a coffee shop or something on their break because
they may have to work 10 to 15 minutes to get to a break room. if they have a 20-minute break, it's difficult to do. >> i'm not talking about folks on their break. you know i'm in airports all the time. i actually am one of the people in congress that understands the tsa. i know who are working and who is not. we both know, you can go to any major airport and you see a lot more people than necessary at these check points. i want to get back to my question. if it's not 25%, is it 20% that you can reduce the work force? >> i'm not prepared to say a percentage that i'm willing to reduce because i believe personnel we have currently, again, using that part time construct, are necessary to provide the security the american people expect today. >> it's not hurting your confidence level. you and i both know, everybody in this room knows you can get by with less folks. and i tell you, with the budget problems we're having around here, you know your number is not going to be getting bigger. if you are going to find money for the technologies you're looking at right now.
if you don you're going to have to look some place to come up with the money. and i think you're going to have to look at right-sizing the department to get it down and then using that money to make it more professional. let me ask about the -- you talked a few minutes about the professionalism necessary for this job. do you feel like the 46,000 screeners you now are exhibiting the professionalism or the degree of professionalism that you expect? >> most do, but there are some clearly who don't and so we -- if they violate our policies, our procedures or their off-duty conduct is such, they do not uphold those expectations, then we take appropriate action. >> and i know that you've started, and i applaud you for starting a uniform training system, so, every screener will hopefully one day go through the exact same screening, so, there's more uniformity across airports. my question is, at the rate that you're putting people through that training program now, how many years will it take for the
entire work force to go through it? >> right now, we don't have funds to do that. so, we are taking it out of hide, because it is a priority. long-term construct. >> by long-term, you mean, one year? >> oh, no. multiple years. outyears we're talking about. >> decades? >> not decades. multiple years. >> okay. tell me more about that attrition rate -- >> 7.1% or 7.2% in fy-11 -- >> let me ask this. i looked at what happened in ft. myers, you had a little problem out there. what does it take to get fired at tsa. they only let four of them go and the other 35 or so were given a suspension for not doing their job. >> well, obviously, the facts of each individual, we wanted to make sure that we investigate properly. we afford prompt due process. if there is immediate issue with security, then we suspend them right away, so they're not on the job effecting security. these individuals that were found to be most egregious, we
proposed for dismissal. the other 37, we proposed suspension. the federal security director, his deputy, and then the manager, who had the oversight. situation of, do they know or should they have known what was going on. >> chair recognizes mr. thompson for anymore questions he may have. >> thank you very much. mr. pistole, one of tissues tha some of us have tried to move with this committee is respect to new technology. the culture of a lot of organizations is to only deal with certain vendors, because they had a capacity to deliver. but one of the things that a lot of members are exposed to is new
detection technology. but we also hear that the barrier between developing the technology and what's required to get tsa's nod, is so difficult to overcome. what can you say to this committee that will allow new technologies a faster way of becoming vetted? >> yeah, thank you, ranking member. the -- on monday of this week, i met with a group of industry personnel, ccoe -- ceos, coos, from various companies, businesses, and one of the things i told them is, we are always looking for innovation, so, spiral development is good, but we're looking for breakthrough technology, which may come from anybody.
so, the big ticket items, if you will, i would agree, it is difficult for the small business owner, the very, the several-person organization, to try to, for example, to develop a $100,000 piece of equipment, just anded the r and d and everything. so, what we do is look for opportunities. and if you look across, clearly, with the department, and even across the vt go, government, w one of the best records with small business owners, minority owners, to engage them in ways that may be outside the normal protocols, so, if there is anything specific, i'd be glad to follow up with you juf line -- >> i got about four minutes. i just like to, as a followup to this meeting, engage you with some of the people that have contacted the committee about
their difficulty. and i would like for you to listen to them, because what you say to us and what they say to us also is not the same thing. >> be glad to do that, sir. and obviously, we're always looking for innovation. we receive a number of unsolicited proposals, some of them make sense, some of them -- >> the reason i say that, some of the companies have capacity. some of the companies have even been able to deploy their technology overseas, to airports that we have relationships with, but they can't get that technology through tsa's vetting. and so, i -- if there's a disconnect, i want you to help us identify it and, you know, these are -- these are american companies. american jobs.
that we could do. apart from that, i have one other issue i want to -- the reorganization. we've been hearing about it for a little while now. can you provide us with a preliminary report on the efficiencies you expect to gain from this reorganization? we have been exposed to reorganizations in the past. but we've not been able to determine efficiencies. what we've been able, just to be honest with you, is, you move people around, you get some people promoted, some people moved down. what is your purpose in the reorganization? >> the bottom line is to come up with the most efficient way
providing the security service that we provide and so, to that end, last year, i caused an efficiency review to be taken, particularly for the headquarters components. there's information out there, some reported by other committees, that there are 4,000 people at tsa headquarters. we have 2,500 people approximately at our headquarters. we have other components that do national functions, vetting, so, they may be counting those numbers. but anyway, the numbers at headquarters, what i -- this review was, to look at the layers of review, for example, on documents, policy issues. so, we have eliminated a number of positions, at headquarters, to become more efficient, leaner, smarter, to the chairman's point. and i'd have to get back with you in terms of the exact numbers and those issues, but to
say it's -- it's a number of positions that have been eliminated to reduce layers of bureaucracy and to become a smarter, leaner organization. >> well, can you provide us with an interim report on where you are with that and -- >> yes. >> and what savings are projected? >> yes. be glad to do that. >> thank you. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> chair recognizes the gentleman from new york, mr. turner, for any additional questions he may have. >> thank you mr. chairman. i travel a good deal, i'm in an airport about 12 times a month, i guess. and i observe the lines, i think -- how fast we get in and out of there, the -- is -- has a great deal to do with your image and customer satisfaction and even how much air travel, i know people prefer to drive now to
the carolinas, rather than endure what they have to do at an airport. just -- one of the things that i've noticed is the belts on or belts off policy. sometime sometimes males required to take belts off. slows things down. other times they don't. i don't know if there's a uniform policy or just to keep everyone offguard, but it -- that's a slowing process. sometimes there's enough people there to help move the trays. in high, peak times. i see inspectors who are looking at the electronic monitors who are on the job training. very often, they stop at every
other bag and have to call for assistance. i would think that these would be better suited for low traffic period periods and i don't see a -- a process to, when things are getting out of hand, there are 1,000 people standing online for blocks, a way to quickly alleviate that. >> thank you, congressman. that is one of the challenges that we have and part of the reason, to the chairman's question about the staffing, if we reduce the staffing by x percent, that would likely have an impact on those wait times. unless there's such an efficiency because of things, is it the same level of security, and that's the bottom line. so, what i'd like to do is provide the committee with some of the met trirics we use. we actually look at this issue, assess and look for ways to improve that in terms of the
staffing molding for each airport, based on the checkpoint configuration. how long the wait times are. and i get a report that spokes wait times around the country, all 450 airports. obviously, it's the cat xs we focus on, the largest airports, to say when there is a long wait time than what we believe is appropriate. i spoke yesterday with the ceo, we had five airline ceos in yesterday for an updated and classified intelligence briefing. i spoke to two of them, one in particular at a major airport where they are -- their customers are experiencing longer wait times than they are used to and so he wanted to know how we can work on that together, in terms of their additional staff and our additional staffing to alleviate that issue. it is something we are very focused on and you raise some good points about the belts on, belts off, there is some random and unpredictable -- usually,